How to Transform a Suitcase into a DIY Vintage Suitcase Cabinet

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Sometimes I get these crazy ideas, and I keep thinking about it and planning until the crazy idea becomes an actual thing. Cruising around Pinterest, I was looking for storage ideas; I had all these bottles of essential oils and nowhere to put them, except a tiny little plastic box I’d picked up at our favorite discount store. As I looked around, I saw one particular Pin that caught my interest; it was a vintage suitcase turned medicine cabinet. And that’s how it all began for my DIY vintage suitcase cabinet… How to take a vintage suitcase and create a DIY vintage suitcase cabinet for storage or home decoration. I needed either an essential oils case or a place for essential oils storage, and this is perfect! It definitely adds character to our living space… the stories that old suitcase could probably tell.

I made a trip to my local antique store, where I looked for a suitcase that would fit the bill. It needed to be a flat sided suitcase, be in good shape, sturdy, not falling apart. I picked one up for around $20.

So, how do you create a cabinet from a suitcase, you ask? It’s really not hard at all, though this was one project that I wasn’t sure how to create or where to even begin. I had the idea and the inspiration for this project, and Dan helped me bring the idea to fruition. Together we built the cabinet and worked up a how-to, so you can make your own.

Supplies You’ll Need

Vintage suitcase
1 – 1x4x8 board
1 – 1x2x8 board
4 – L brackets and screws
Drywall anchors, if needed
Nails or screws to lock shelves in place

DIY Vintage Suitcase Cabinet Instructions

First you’ll need to decide how many shelves you want. We divided evenly and decided on 3 shelves, based on the bottle height of my oils; it really will depend on what you intend to store in your cabinet.

Cut vertical boards to the inside length of your suitcase.

How to take a vintage suitcase and create a DIY suitcase cabinet for storage or home decoration. I needed either an essential oils case or a place for essential oils storage, and this is perfect! It definitely adds character to our living space… the stories that old suitcase could probably tell.

How to take a vintage suitcase and create a DIY suitcase cabinet for storage or home decoration. I needed either an essential oils case or a place for essential oils storage, and this is perfect! It definitely adds character to our living space… the stories that old suitcase could probably tell.

Lay out marking for shelves on vertical boards on the thinner side. We marked centers and 3/8″ on each side of center so we knew how wide to cut. Our boards were 20″ with a 5″ shelf height… 3 shelves on 5″ centers.How to take a vintage suitcase and create a DIY suitcase cabinet for storage or home decoration. I needed either an essential oils case or a place for essential oils storage, and this is perfect! It definitely adds character to our living space… the stories that old suitcase could probably tell.

Next you’ll need to mark halfway down on the wide side of the board underneath the shelf markings you made in the previous step. This is the line you will cut down to, to allow the shelf to slide in. Cut it slowly as you want the shelf to fit tightly. You can use a miter saw or a hand saw and hammer and chisel. You can even use a table saw.How to take a vintage suitcase and create a DIY suitcase cabinet for storage or home decoration. I needed either an essential oils case or a place for essential oils storage, and this is perfect! It definitely adds character to our living space… the stories that old suitcase could probably tell.

After your cuts are made on the vertical boards you will want to cut your shelves (they need to be cut to fit inside the suitcase) the same way you did above for the vertical boards. We made the center section of the shelves wider for aesthetics only. You can lay this out however you want. Again take your time cutting as you want things to be tight.

Now that you have your first cuts made, fit everything together as a dry fit to make sure everything will line up.How to take a vintage suitcase and create a DIY suitcase cabinet for storage or home decoration. I needed either an essential oils case or a place for essential oils storage, and this is perfect! It definitely adds character to our living space… the stories that old suitcase could probably tell. If you’re satisfied with the fit, you can use a nail gun, screws or just glue to tack and hold the shelves in place. We used a nail gun and put a couple nails through the vertical board into each shelf at an angle to hide the nails.

To make the oil bottles easier to see and not have them all crowded together where I couldn’t even see the labels, we added another 3/4″ riser on the rear of the shelf. You can cut these to fit and tack them into place however you see fit.How to take a vintage suitcase and create a DIY suitcase cabinet for storage or home decoration. I needed either an essential oils case or a place for essential oils storage, and this is perfect! It definitely adds character to our living space… the stories that old suitcase could probably tell.

How to take a vintage suitcase and create a DIY suitcase cabinet for storage or home decoration. I needed either an essential oils case or a place for essential oils storage, and this is perfect! It definitely adds character to our living space… the stories that old suitcase could probably tell.

If everything is cut and fits together correctly, you’ll have a sturdy shelf that fits inside the suitcase. How to take a vintage suitcase and create a DIY suitcase cabinet for storage or home decoration. I needed either an essential oils case or a place for essential oils storage, and this is perfect! It definitely adds character to our living space… the stories that old suitcase could probably tell.Next you’ll want to screw through the back of the suitcase into the back of the shelves to hold the shelf in the suitcase and provide support for mounting.How to take a vintage suitcase and create a DIY suitcase cabinet for storage or home decoration. I needed either an essential oils case or a place for essential oils storage, and this is perfect! It definitely adds character to our living space… the stories that old suitcase could probably tell.

The final step is to provide a mounting surface. We chose an L bracket and attached four of them to the vertical board below the top and bottom shelves on each side. This will support it well enough on any wall. How to take a vintage suitcase and create a DIY suitcase cabinet for storage or home decoration. I needed either an essential oils case or a place for essential oils storage, and this is perfect! It definitely adds character to our living space… the stories that old suitcase could probably tell.Then using the L brackets, screw it into your wall. Either screw into a stud, or use drywall anchors. (It would be wise to watch for electrical wires. Most stud sensors will alert if there is electricity in the area you are mounting. Just be careful.)

Once you have the suitcase hung, you can decorate it to your heart’s desire and store whatever you had in mind. I’m actually filling mine with essential oils. How to take a vintage suitcase and create a DIY suitcase cabinet for storage or home decoration. I needed either an essential oils case or a place for essential oils storage, and this is perfect! It definitely adds character to our living space… the stories that old suitcase could probably tell.We hung the cabinet in the living room, so it’s easy to access at any time. The bottles are also supposed to be stored in a darker place, away from sunlight, so this works really well. I’ve thought about using Mod Podge to decorate the front with some sort of design, but I haven’t figured out just what design, if any, I want to make yet… I may even cover the front with fabric. Who knows? So, for now, it’s just a vintage suitcase cabinet in all its untouched glory. I kinda love it just the way it is.How to take a vintage suitcase and create a DIY suitcase cabinet for storage or home decoration. I needed either an essential oils case or a place for essential oils storage, and this is perfect! It definitely adds character to our living space… the stories that old suitcase could probably tell.

How to take a vintage suitcase and create a DIY suitcase cabinet for storage or home decoration. I needed either an essential oils case or a place for essential oils storage, and this is perfect! It definitely adds character to our living space… the stories that old suitcase could probably tell.

How to take an old suitcase and create a DIY vintage suitcase cabinet for storage or home decoration. I needed either an essential oils case or a place for essential oils storage, and this is perfect! It definitely adds character to our living space… The stories that old suitcase could probably tell.

Looking for more thrifty DIY project inspiration?

Need to find a suitcase for your own vintage suitcase cabinet? Pin it for later!How to take an old suitcase and create a DIY vintage suitcase cabinet for storage or home decoration. I needed either an essential oils case or a place for essential oils storage, and this is perfect! It definitely adds character to our living space… The stories that old suitcase could probably tell.

7 thoughts on “How to Transform a Suitcase into a DIY Vintage Suitcase Cabinet”

  1. Hi Mel! This is such an awesome idea! I had no idea that Danny had that kind of saw. Hmmm………think of the things he could be making for me! It’s probably a good idea that you live so far! I would be bugging him like crazy! :) Being that I’m a paper freak, how about covering the front with some vintage looking scrapbook paper, sorta like a mixed up collage of a scrapbook. You’re good with that kind of stuff. It’s amazing what we can make out of old things. I have an old white hard suitcase like that. I’ve always used it to keep the big Lego blocks inside of it, and I also use it as a booster seat for little kids in my shop when they get a haircut. But I sure like this idea better!

  2. You could have a piece of mirror cut and attach
    To the front and make it a medicine cabinet
    In a bathroom. I may try this in my guest house!
    Thanks for the idea!! If I do it I’ll post pics!

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